OK, I blew it- My nominations for Gearheads of the Year got involved in some minor scandals and I couldn’t think up any worthy replacements off hand, I got busy, etc. and it just didn’t happen. So I’ll try to make up for it by peering into the crystal ball and predict some up coming trends for 2015 and beyond. So here’s my best, well, guesses:

We’re getting’ older!

Can’t go wrong on this one, assuring that I’ll get at least one prediction right. This means that every market built on the material desires of consumers “of a certain age” like cruiser motorcycles, muscle cars, etc. are peaking and those markets will be shrinking. Now HOG(NYSE), better known as Harley, will brush that theory aside. arguing that a new bunch of geezers will come along to replace the current Harley customers that are moving on to smaller electric powered trikes and assisted living. Problem is, it doesn’t work that way… Middle aged moto-consumers with disposable cash tend to buy what they drooled over a half century earlier. Todays millenials are into “hot hatches”, cafe racers, and even hybrids… Which means a few decades hence they’ll be restoring GSXRs, R1s, GTIs, Honda/Acura 2 doors, and maybe even a Prius. Consider for a moment that battery power density has taken quantum leaps in the last couple decades… And imagine hacker/hot rodders a couple decades from now building a first generation lightweight Honda Insight hybrid into a 1000 HP yet under 2000 pound road rocket, with a range of over a thousand miles!

We’re getting’ poorer, too…

Much of the last decade or so’s boom in the aformentioned Harleys and muscle cars was financed by the remaining vestiges of middle class money, as baby boomer’s middle class wages and home appreciation provided disposable income to spend on the dream toy temptations of their not entirely misspent youth. Day after I graduated high school back in ’68 I put in a bunch of job applications, and next day I had three good jobs to choose from. Today college grads spend months job hunting and often end up with at best three minimum wage part time jobs. That means less money to buy cars and houses and pricier motorcycles, which explains why “Detroit” now thinks any year where they manage to beat 1980’s sales figures is a boom year. Also explains why transit systems are breaking ridership records and overpriced “car sharing” systems like Daimler’s Car2Go are booming. And with $50 military surplus Harleys having sold out a half century ago, no wonder today’s young riders are taking their hacksaws and torches to the nation’s forgotten back of the garages and sheds inventory of old japanese bikes instead of Harley 750 flatheads.

Say goodbye to the 2 car and more garage…

The aforementioned lack of income means the young folks are having to settle for apartments/condos and at best a townhouse with a tiny single car garage that can barely fit a full size pickup. Car hating urban planners love this development, claiming that the young folk have finally “seen the light” and are abandoning the car and embracing mass transit, while the single family home with a double garage is an endangered species. Remember all those old cars and bikes that hid out in garages waiting to be rediscovered decades later? Well, there ain’t gonna be many garages built anymore for them to take sanctuary in. And those auto and motorcycle marketing whiz kids who expect us to buy a sedan, SUV, sport bike, and dual sport bike too… Where we gonna put ’em all in that single car garage? Thus the new car of the future is probably a compact car based SUV, and the market is already trending in that direction. And will there be any space left for motorcycles? Don’t be surprised if a whole market niche develops for compact easy to store bikes and ramps. hoists, and “garden sheds” to make it easy to hide them!

There is only one market left, the world…

While the cumedgeons over at http://www.bigmacktrucks.com bemoan Volvo’s slow “borging” of Mack, fact is Mack is only about a tenth of Volvo’s sales and is thusly lucky to be alive. While decades ago Volvo and Daimler marketed their trucks to the world and even built trucks with things that made no sense to them for export markets, most of the american auto and truck industry kept the blinders on and concentrated on their then largest in the world home market. Today two thirds of the worlds heavy trucks are sold in Asia and the world’s most prolific motorcycle maker is in India and hardly anybody but geeky gear heads have ever heard of them. So no wonder that economies of scale dictate that the only North American market specific vehicles left will be full sized pickups, and vehicles built to the “english”/”‘merican” system of measurement are headed for the endangered species list. And no wonder that aftermarket parts made for ‘merican vehicles by semiskilled Chinese workers who cam barely grasp the metric system don’t fit worth a damn!

Gearheads ain’t going away…

Despite the worlds vehicle producers best attempts to take us out of the equation, this is the golden age of gearheading… When else in history have we been able to scan in a part, reengineer it with open source software, and then make it with CNC  machines and 3D printers. What we are seeing is a democratizing of technology, with truck drivers doing vehicle dynamics research on their laptops and whole cars designed and built by open source communities.

It’s a great time to be a gearhead!

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